Saturday, 20 June 2020

The Corona Diaries: Ailsa Davidson

These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times. 

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Ailsa Davidson's credits include Lipsync (Cumberland Theatre/Summerhall); Judith in Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens (Union Theatre); Miss Lynch and Cover Rizzo & Jan (UK Tour); Americana (Theatre Royal Stratford East) and Sarah in Our House (Union Theatre). 

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I think I was actually working at the Union. That made a huge impact because I just knew how difficult closure was going to be for everyone but especially our fringe venues. I could almost see worst-case scenario first, you know? 

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing?

I’ve been continuing my Acting for Screen class remotely (ActingUp with Vicky Alcock in case anyone is interested) which has vastly improved my self-tape technique and kept me creative with weekly projects. I’ve also been listening to the spotlight webinars (highly recommend, especially if you’re in a bit of a rut) and managed to bag a 1-2-1 (felt like trying to get Glastonbury tickets when I was booking). Just keeping myself in the loop and proactive as possible really. It’s difficult when we don’t know what is next for the industry but I’m just working on the things I can control. But I’ve also just been allowing myself time to just be. Trying to be kinder and less critical of myself. I think through the act of just sitting with your thoughts and exploring them, you are giving yourself fuel as an actor. We don’t get enough time for this usually. 

Whenever you log onto social media there is so much negativity circulating. How have you been trying to keep a positive mental attitude during these times? 

I find this tricky but I think you can find positive in exposing yourself to negative things, hear me out. I’m an over-thinker, I genuinely analyse everything within an inch of my life so things that don’t sit well with me can have a major impact. The way I can use this to my advantage is rather than focusing on the what, I try to focus on the why. There is reasoning for everything, there is a root to all opinions out there. By blocking out things you find upsetting you’re protecting yourself in a way, but you’re also doing yourself a disservice in not exercising tolerance and to an extent, compassion. I’m not saying that you should be a doormat and allow other opinions to virtually shout over yours. There is right and wrong, for sure. But I’m not sure that anyone is a master at expressing opinions online. 

Just because you find something jarring, doesn’t mean it is a personal attack. If there’s a post that bothers you, instead of you vehemently opposing it (I see this all the time from our industry, we are very defensive) maybe try to have a constructive conversation about it with a friend to explore why you’re bothered. Don’t add to the negativity online, bring positive change to the space.

With the Arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the Arts industries? 

I’d say to watch the shows that are being streamed through the national theatre live platform and make sure you donate. Support your friends, share work that has moved you. Our industry has this way of honing in on the top pick of people and reusing them time and time again so we rarely see a face we don’t know doing anything online. Actively seek other artists work that isn’t promoted for the masses.
But also keep talking about theatre, it’s more than just us that miss it, our audiences miss it so much too.

Have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to our viewers? 

I’ve watched so much TV! Here’s a list of things I’ve loved/found impactful and where to find them: This Is Us (Amazon Prime), The Eddy (Netflix), Miles Davis: Birth of Cool (iPlayer), Normal People (iPlayer), Small Fires Everywhere (Amazon Prime), When they See Us (Netflix) and Twin (iPlayer. Reading suggestions; literally anything by Alain de Botton, he is amazing. I’ve just finished The school of Life: An Emotional Education and highly recommend. 

In these times of Social Distancing and isolation, how have you been trying to connect with Friends and Family? Any fun quizzes or games?! 

 Classic Zoom quizzes (I’m so terrible at them) There’s an app called Psych which is so much fun if you need a break from quizzing! 

And finally, looking to the future, what are you most looking forward to when all of this is over? 

I think I’m most looking forward to a collective change in perspective. We can’t go back to normal, normal wasn’t working. The way the world worked before, it was easy to be impatient and complacent; we could live out hyper individualised ideals, consuming everything at speed and disposing at the same rate. We expected a lot from ourselves and others. I hope this time has taught us to see the world through something other than just our own lens. Given us time to practice patience and really think about how we all move forward together for the collective good.

We'd like to thank Ailsa and all other performers who have given up their time to contribute to this feature.

For more information please visit GOV.UK and

Other useful links for anyone needing further help:

Acting For Others - Charity that provides financial & emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need.
Help Musicians - An independent Charity that helps all forms of Musicians through times of need.
Industry Minds - Mental Health Support for the creative arts.
Theatre Helpline - a free, independent and confidential phone and email service that provides support to people working in the theatre industry.
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